Re: Surely this is illegal
Illegal? No, certainly not under the Data Protection Act. The employers are asking their prospective employees to volunteer their facebook account details. If they agree, then it is a private agreement between the individual and a company. This is exactly the same as a loan company asking for copies of your bank statement before offering a loan.
It may be counted as discrimination if it can be proved that the individual did not get the job because they refused to hand over details, but that would be a completely different issue.
I immediately thought that the employers were going to turn an applicant down if they actually DID give their login details over, because that would indicate a lack of understanding about on-line security! Ho hum.